Hi Rob Thanks for the interest in our idea and, yes, entrepreneurship courses are a great example of a problem-solving approach. I love the word ‘synergy’ as a description. That is exactly what is going on in this proposed framework. Students learn that solutions are very rarely made by a single individual or in a vacuum. But rather by connecting the energies, ideas and analysis of many to arrive at the solution. Rather like how Google combines millions of servers to provide answers and pathways to explore in a search engine. You may want to take a look at the very brief example found in our storyboard of the User Journey or as cited in a number of the comments below. I agree that as the idea develops specific examples would assist in developing the structure, rubrics and curriculum or guides. The paradigm is designed to be fluid and adaptable to a student’s interests and resources. The main starting point is from a guidance or advisement point of approach but could be utilized in most interfaces with students in any part of the learning continuum or work environment. I do like your example, and it would be exactly that – gaining skills and knowledge in a number of disciplines to design the collection of abilities and contacts a student needs to ‘get the job done’ by maintaining/achieving personal impact on solving their individual problem. Great ‘food for thought’. Thanks again.
Eileen, Regarding your question on service learning…Service Learning to our experience, is a more structured form of the problem-solving framework. The full connection would be if the student explores or selects the problem they are working/wanting to solve, help develop methodology to do so, develops networks and mentors to see various pathways or ways they could impact the solution. To my experience, this is service learning at its best. Many times, service learning opportunities have a ‘ready made’ or pre-identified problem that the entire class or group works with. They do learn a lot about the community or additional issues and the depth and scope of the problem they are working with. Service learning is very good at bonding students to a community and a few in the group will find a ‘passion’ in that work that guides them in plotting their pathway through higher education and career planning. Others may be inspired to explore additional service opportunities to find one that is the right fit for them. Service learning could very well be a launching point into a problem-solving approach even if it is only a temporary foray as long as students have a debrief or guidance on analyzing what they discovered. Regarding your comment about more affluent communities, there are still issues close to home but often more hidden. Students may need some help in ‘teasing out’ the issues they view as a pursuit worth their time or in looking at ‘what they plan on doing with their life’ to help them see how that would/could impact others. We see evidence every day that service and problem-solving experience becomes the focal point of competitive selection not just grades or test scores. This is true for everything from admission to scholarships to internships. Regarding measurement of success, it would not be difficult to develop rubrics to gauge a student’s depth of work, understanding, and commitment. It could also involve critical employment and life skills (formerly referred to as soft skills now called essential skills) such as communication and teamwork, leadership and crucial critical thinking skills that most universities work hard at helping their students learn.
We admit this shift will not be accomplished rapidly nor is it meant to totally change the way higher educational is structured nor functions.
As a starting point the 'single question' What problem do you want to solve? is designed as an advisement prompt and working structure or framework to work with students on either designing their own major or broadening the scope of the classes they take to promote the maximum flexibility of skills and qualifications they take in higher education.
It would also become relevant in combining student choices of majors and minors, suggesting participation in clubs and organizations, connecting with mentors and targeting locations for co-ops and internships.
Regarding measurement, we can see projects or development and participation of multi-disciplinary teams in problem solving targets. It is likely that a multi-phased levels of involvement would be developed that would engage professionals in the fields as well as employers along the way. This would be a great avenue for potential employers to get to know students who may someday be their employees from a mentoring and project team perspective long before the interview process.
Thanks for helping us consider how to frame our design on this.